"I would also say that students and parents need to be aware of the potential of attackers using phishing emails in order to trick parents and students into getting personal information about them, gaining access to their accounts."By Andrea Alvarez

TAMPA BAY, Fla. (CW44 News At 10) – Cybersecurity experts say hackers already becoming a problem for schools as they attempt to reopen amid the pandemic. As local districts begin to roll out their eLearning systems, experts warn cyber attackers are on the prowl for your information. CW44’s Andrea Alvarez has the story.

Many schools across Tampa Bay are starting the school year off with virtual or eLearning. While nearly all counties have that online class as an option for students, cybersecurity experts say though that there’s more than one lesson that could come out of it.

“It’s not very complicated to hack anything. It just depends on the level of effort that has to be put in place depends on the complexity.” Said cybersecurity expert, Quentin Rhoads-Herrera of CriticalStart.

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Rhoads-Herrera explains the ease of hacking into software systems remotely. “From my own experience, I’ve hacked into an entire company in an hour. Some have taken months,” and now that schools across Florida are reopening online, “The schools are going to these companies buying eLearning software and then distributing that software to students.”

There’s a new focus for cyber attackers, “The schools, it’s going to be a new playground for attackers because the first time on a scale of this size that every school has gone to eLearning. I think we’re going to learn a lot of lessons.” says Rhoads-Herrera. He contends the issue isn’t the software itself, but the precautionary measures it takes to implement it. “I think with the rush to gain vendors for eLearning capabilities is really going to expose a lot of schools to hacking that they’ve never experienced before.”

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Rhoads-Herrera elaborates that schools, mainly grades 12 and under rarely put cybersecurity as a top priority, simply because they never needed to. “Universities, they do have to worry about hacking every year. They have even nation states trying to break into their systems, as we saw with China this year,” his advice, “They need to, you know, constantly double-check, triple-check the vendors that they got. I would also say that students and parents need to be aware of the potential of attackers using phishing emails in order to trick parents and students into getting personal information about them, gaining access to their accounts.”

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Furthermore, the rise of remote-learning is expected to take a toll on family finances. According to bankrate.com 61% of families are reevaluating their budgets and careers.

Almost 33% of respondents said miscellaneous expenses, such as technology and tutoring would take the biggest toll on finances. 23% cited the lack of work/life balance is their greatest hurdle. 22% said having to cut work hours to help with remote schooling will hurt their finances. 15% of respondents said they might need to stop working altogether.

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